Dear Pro Tem,
This is to explain why I stopped writing for you and why I will fight for your independence. The Glendon College Student Union (GCSU) currently funds 80% of Pro Tem’s levy, which includes the printing and publishing of this paper. Amidst the confusion and chaos of the current student union, it is time to speak up. The role of journalism is to act as a watchdog to society and in the Glendon community that role falls on Pro Tem. A newspaper that is student-run heavily depends on funding, as it is not cheap to print papers bi-weekly and to pay editors and photographers to put it all together. Somehow, Pro Tem gets this done while being funded by the GCSU. As many students are aware (or perhaps unaware), there was a large amount of money stolen from the GCSU at the end of the last academic year. Pro Tem issued a notice from the Union in their second edition of the 2017/2018 academic year, citing approximately $20,000 stolen by a previous member of the GCSU. What they could not mention is that the money that was used to keep the GCSU afloat for the year was coming out of Pro Tem’s pocket. Following this, Pro Tem decided to ask for an increase in their levy, which would mean that they get more funding from student tuition – a step towards their independence from the GCSU. It is imperative that a news source be able to have independence in order to act as a watchdog when necessary. Currently, we are at the seams of a community rift, as it is clear that the Union has been divided. Regardless of which side of the story is true, it remains important to consider the financial grip that the GCSU has over Pro Tem. I ask you, how can the watchdog of our school question the authority that funds them unless they get more independence?
It is a time for clarity and responsibility, which is something that the GCSU has not been able to provide. Pro Tem has been valiantly communicating the information that they know, which is their job. The statement from Pro Tem reads, “President Cheong submitted his official letter of resignation on Tuesday, January 9th, citing the abundance of misinformation being circulated as slanderous to him personally.” After the December 14th public meeting, where there was a failed motion to impeach President Cheong on grounds of sexual violence and financial mismanagement, the student group called GL’s Student Voice grew from exasperated members of the community and have also taken their voice public via social media. They also spread word about the accusations of sexual violence and financial mismanagement against the president through posters, which he reportedly took down. The future of the GCSU remains unclear, following the recent resignations of the President, VP Social, VP Bilingual, VP Campaigns and Advocacy, VP Athletics, VP Academics, VP Clubs, and the Chief Financial Officer – all of whom cited a divide within the Council as a key reason for their departure.
It is also important to take into consideration that those members were paid before leaving their positions. The student union is also a levy organization, which takes large amounts of money from student tuitions. In fact, they are the largest levy organization at Glendon. In addition to the incident of theft by a member of the 2016-17 Council, it is really unfortunate that these members decided to take their money from the Fall semester and quit, despite being in their right to do so. It is unfair for the student body to left in the dark about the entirety of the situation, especially when it concerns their tuition money and their student government. While waiting for an official word from the GCSU, the communications officer of the Union has advertised movies and ignored pleas from students, furthering the rumours of scandal. This seems to have been a struggle from within the Union which has now become the business of the entire school, including other colleges at the university. It is not just about the president and the accusations against him or choosing sides, it is about students and their right to be informed and to have a say in their government. According to the minutes of the GCSU’s December 14th Council meeting, the student population is “apathetic” and “disinterested”.
But perhaps the real problem is that no one really knows the issues. Glendon has formed cliques that leave little room for outsiders to join and feel comfortable. As warm and welcoming as the community can be, it is clear that when people decide to take sides, Glendon can turn into a place where even the most social and involved students feel alienated. It is a place where I felt scared to question the system and our government, to even write this article for fear of being outcast by the community. It is also a place where people do not know who is right anymore, but where serious allegations of sexual violence can be overlooked and then rewarded. The GCSU was once a place where we could find smiling friends and get all the help and information we needed, but in this moment of weakness, we need to support the community and continue to stand for the students. This is not the time for silence, this is the time for truth. This is the time to stand up for other organizations in our school who work to promote student interest. Pro Tem may not be the choice for many students to get informed, but it should be independent nonetheless. This is why I have not written much recently, because I am afraid of censorship. That said, we cannot be timid any longer. I have faith that the GCSU will get back on its feet because, as a community, Glendon is not apathetic or disinterested. At the moment, the GCSU needs to rebuild themselves.
Opinions I have heard from Glendon students include “It kind of sounds like there's way more to what happened than everyone thinks,” “But if there is more story, [they] should share that with the rest of the student body,” “They can’t just not talk about it now and not inform anyone,” and “I can’t believe how the fraud went lowkey”. One Glendon finance student even professed that, “I think the whole GCSU structure is just so flawed. And I really think they get too much money… If you get like $50,000 a year but still finish with a big surplus, you're not liquidating sales. You're getting too much funding”. For instance, according to the 2016 GCSU audit, our money apparently bought them $37 000 in office supplies. And after a "fight", a VP destroyed $3 742 of our money. In addition, this student said that, “what really gets me is they don’t really take responsibility; they blame other VPs and then say how much they’re ‘not given credit for work’”. In the end, being on the GCSU is a job which is intended to give back to the school, not to receive praise. I will reiterate, these are all direct quotes from concerned Glendon students.
So for all those students who are unaware of these situations due to the lack of widespread communication, perhaps it is preaching to the choir when I recommend other student organizations for information, but at least you know that they exist. As a student, you put your money into this school and they attempt to give it back to us through these student organizations, so let us invest in the ones that represent us! Part time students, commuters, exchange students, international students, and residence students should all be informed – n’importe quel langue, no matter your place in the social circles, and especially because you pay to go to school here. We cannot let our precious tuition money go to waste, so let’s put it towards responsible school organizations like Pro Tem and so many other clubs, teams, and organizations. It is difficult to see friends and role models tear the community apart, but that is why students must stand stronger together. Do not wait, like I did, to speak up.